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Boston Calling Music Festival Brings Business, Confuses Residents

Boston Calling attendees flood JFK Street.
Boston Calling attendees flood JFK Street. By Kai R. McNamee
By Brie K. Buchanan, Crimson Staff Writer

As concert-goers swarmed Allston over the weekend for the annual Boston Calling music festival, local businesses and residents were divided on their feelings about the shows happening in their own backyard.

The festival, which takes place at the Harvard athletic complex on the Boston side of the Charles River, brings significant business to local restaurants over its three-day run, according to Harvard Square Business Association Executive Director Denise A. Jillson.

“It has become a significant weekend in The Square,” Jillson said. “We’re grateful for the... opportunity to help our businesses.”

Jillson also said that the festival, which is a member of the Square’s business association, encourages younger visitors to the area.

“It’s becoming almost a rite of passage for young teens, and the number of young teens and families that attend the event is growing,” Jillson said. “The hope is always that they’ll....want to come back a lot.”

For years, Boston Calling was hosted at City Hall Plaza in the heart of Boston, but moved to Allston three years ago. This year, it featured performances by Twenty One Pilots, Tame Impala, and Travis Scott, among others.

Douglas Cho, who owns Boston Tea Stop in the Square, said that the first year after the move to Harvard, the music festival caused some disturbances that resulted in his store deciding to close earlier in the day the following year.

“The first year, we had a really, really high number of drunk people that… caused problems,” Cho said. “We actually ended up closing early a couple of the days just because it wasn’t worth the trouble.”

Cho said the beverage shop resumed regular hours this year after a marked decrease in disruptions.

“This year was probably the most mellow,” Cho said. “This year we just stayed open and it was fine for the most part.”

The move to Allston, however, has also caused issues for local residents who have complained about the volume of the music festival.

Angela Tang, a retired resident of Oak Square, said she was not notified in advance of the festival in a manner accessible to her, resulting in confusion on Sunday night when she could hear the music but could not identify the source of the noise.

“I walked about five blocks, at least five blocks, to see where the loud party comes from,” Tang said.

Tang said she hopes that in the future, the music festival will hand out flyers to notify senior residents that do not see social media alerts.

She also said she believes that Boston Calling should end performances at 10 p.m. in order to respect residents.

“I think 10 o’clock all the bands should be shut off,” Tang said.

Boston Calling did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon. The festival maintained a community hotline to field concerns throughout the festival’s run from Friday to Sunday.

Elaine M. Meehan, another Oak Square resident, offered a different perspective, noting that she enjoyed seeing Boston Calling hosted in Allston.

“I think it’s great where it is, I think it is very much in line with who Allston has really become as a part of the city,” Meehan said. “I would kind of be sad if they took it away.”

Meehan also commended Boston Calling and Harvard for its organization and communication in the form of traffic signs and social media postings.

“I do think that they do a very good job of controlling the environment around it making sure that people are… safe and the people are aware that Boston Calling is coming,” Meehan said.

–Brie K. Buchanan can be reached at

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